Normally, it is only at the Republic Day celebrations that one would expect to find India’s three military chiefs (along with troops) at the centre of the national capital’s Rajpath, the main road that witnesses the annual march past. However, when last spotted on the Rajpath the three chiefs were with a brigade worth of troops arrayed behind their prime minister in breaking the world record for the highest number of participants at a Yoga event.
The army’s association with such initiatives of the government illustrates a deepening proximity between the government and its army. This is a departure from the earlier practice of a dignified distance between the two that has served India well enough so far.
Such association with government ‘events’ is easy to spot, since the military has publicised such participation. The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan (Clean India campaign) too witnessed cadets at the Officers Training Academy, being duly photographed cleaning up Elliot beach in Chennai on World Environment Day, when they really ought to have been at training.
Other such ‘events’ include commemoration of the sixteenth anniversary of Kargil War in New Delhi this month, when army bands reportedly regaled mall-visitors in Delhi to military music.
Earlier, local army formations would observe such anniversaries, some involving locals who helped win the war, with a modest celebration at the regimental level meant to be motivational for units that had taken part in the operations.
Where a mere sixteenth anniversary of a small border war is being marked in such a manner, it is easy to understand month-long celebrations for the 1965 War on its fiftieth anniversary. This is largely an attempt by majoritarian political formations to militarise Indian society, seen in their world view as relatively placid and inert. Unfortunately, the event places the military at the centre and therefore can been seen as a potential avenue of politicizing it.
From a narrow political perspective, it is perhaps to form the backdrop for a grand announcement by the prime minister of his government acceding to the One Rank One Pension demand, a raging current controversy in India in which military pensions are set for a hike.  A narrow political perspective also perhaps explains participants of the first operation that was carried reportedly inside Myanmar against Naga rebels who ambushed a military convoy being hosted to tea by Mr. Modi in early June. This is surely overkill in exultation over a controversial raid with questionable provenance and results. 
There also appears to be a change in the government-military relationship. The military has been favouring this for long, resentful of the insertion of what it saw as a bureaucratic layer between it and the political master. The ruling party however is apparently using the defence as yet another prop in its refashioning of India.
Increasing incidence of instances raises the question: Is there a movement in Indian civil-military relations in which civilian control of the military is shifting from objective military control to subjective military control?
Otherwise notorious, Samuel Huntington was most credible in his first foray into theorising. He had it that military professionalism was expertise in the management of violence. Since the military was a profession, they were best left to manage themselves but under civilian oversight.
It is clear that thus far objective civilian control has been at play in India, even if partially so, in so far as the military has remained outside the decision-making structure by unnecessary insertion of a bureaucratic layer between it and the political level.
However, since the BJP’s coming to power there appears to be a putative shift away from what the military called bureaucratic control towards subjective civilian control. Leveraging its defence initiatives for political mileage and the government’s use of its military muscle to embellish the 56’’ chest of its head is unexceptionable. However, the incipient tendency worth cautioning against is the proximity emerging between the government and the military.
However, this joint subscription to an otherwise worthy political tradition, conservatism, increases the likelihood of the military going further down the route of cultural nationalism alongside. Amartya Sen has blown the whistle on the manner in which institutions, in particular academic ones, are facing the full weight of government interference as part of the long term reset of India. Can it be that the army will be eventually spared similar attention?
It would not do for the military to be bought off by governmental largesse such as the seventh pay commission in lending itself to governmental jamborees. Late realisation of the fact that subjective civilian control is here to stay will not augur well either for military professionalism or for national securit